January 30,2015

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Wyden Applauds Precision Medicine Initiative

White House Proposal A “Welcome Step Forward”

WASHINGTONSenate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., made the following statement today in response to the White House disclosing details about the Precision Medicine Initiative, a $215 million proposal that would accelerate research on biomedical therapies and cures tailored to individuals and provide new tools to physicians to treat disease:

“The Precision Medicine Initiative is an important and welcome step forward in our ability to better identify and treat a broad range of illness,” Wyden said. “I applaud the President for acknowledging the possibilities that precision medicine can offer while recognizing the work that has already begun in the private sector.  I hope this public-private partnership will be a catalyst that brings us better and more efficient treatments.

“The value and untapped potential of precision medicine is something I feel strongly about.  After authoring the personalized medicine provision in the Affordable Care Act, I am encouraged by the President’s decision to build upon – and improve – the ability for scientists, physicians, manufacturers, and others to develop therapies specifically tailored to an individual’s unique diagnosis.  Precision medicine has the potential to help millions of people, particularly those diagnosed with cancer and chronic disease, get the most appropriate treatment from the moment they’re diagnosed and to live healthier lives. I look forward to working in a bipartisan way to bring the President’s vision into reality,” Wyden said.

Background: The President’s Precision Medicine Initiative has roots in a program included in the Affordable Care Act that was authored by Sen. Wyden. Wyden’s amendment to the ACA made it easier and more cost effective for patients to avail themselves of tests that help doctors provide more tailored and effective treatment of life-threatening diseases.

Under Wyden’s provision, Medicare was authorized to provide payment for 36 specific tests that were used to determine whether patients could expect positive outcomes from a given course of treatment after receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease.

The Precision Medicine Initiative proposed by President Obama builds on that concept so that treatment and therapies can be individualized by taking into account differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles.  Precision medicine gives clinicians tools to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying a patient’s health, disease, or condition, and to better predict which treatments will be most effective.